Huge swarms of locusts are devastating the Italian island of Sardinia, arriving a month earlier than in previous years.
The hardest-hit area is Nuoro province, where the winged insects have decimated crops on 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of land after 2019 swarms were thought to be the worst in decades and further infestations in 2020 and 2021.
Leonardo Salis, the president of the Nuoro unit of Coldiretti, the Italian farmers’ association, said their passage destroyed an entire field’s harvest and “went up in smoke” the farmers’ months of work and investment. The locusts also destroy vegetable gardens.
Salis said that after three years of complaints and suggestions to authorities to combat the insects, “we are shocked that we are still talking about the locust invasion.”
He added: “Farmers are now disillusioned and this year some have changed their cropping schedule to limit the damage, knowing nothing would change. Among other things, they have not yet received a euro in compensation for the damage they suffered.”
Gabriella Murgia, the island’s Agriculture Councilor, said Monday that an anti-locust task force is working unabated. “We have no time to waste,” she told local press, adding that the team, together with forest workers, identified the most affected areas and accelerated pest control efforts.
“The maximum cooperation of farmers and all other interested parties is required,” she said.
The infestation comes days after regional authorities approved €2million (£1.7million) in compensation for farmers whose crops were damaged by the insects in 2021.
Christian Solinas, the President of Sardinia, told the newspaper L’Unione Sarda: “The invasion of locusts devastated the Nuoro countryside and brought several companies to their knees. Compensation is essential to enable farmers to cope with a sharp drop in income and to ensure concrete support in the face of an emergency that has compounded their difficulties in recent years.”